Leadership, Reward and Culture

There is an intrinsic reward that is received by the giver. We all know this is true. When you help someone who can't possibly repay you, an immeasurable benefit, almost a force, provides benefit back to you. It may not come at the same time or in a specific sequence. Sometimes your good fortune or luck, your serendipity, comes from benefit you created for others years ago.

Think of the example of helping someone who can't help you back or paying anonymously for someone's meal. Even if no one ever knows, you know. And because you know, you benefit. When you pay it forward, you give what you've been given to help others.

Contribution Creates Margin

Every organization, family, team, community, society or people operates on a margin that exists between contributed effort and withdrawals made. You know when you're in an organization or community of contributors. There is always margin. People are gracious and helping. There is room for error. People forgive quickly. Mistakes are tolerated, not encouraged. Accountability results from the shared benefit created by the contributors in the community.

Withdrawal Kills Margin

A team of takers is much less rewarding. Taker teams begin when any leader takes more than they give or rewards people for doing the same. In no time a chain reaction results. Both excesses, either withdraw or contribution are contagious. Excess withdrawal destroys; excess contribution creates. Eventually, just like the US social security system, excess over-withdrawal creates a toxic society that must either transform or bankrupt. Excess withdrawal results in bankruptcy.

You Get What You Give

People with influence on your team set the tone.  The positional leader is one of the tone-setters but not the only one.  As a leader you get what you give and what you reward. Your team's culture will end up being the culture you promote.  Contribute and create margin.  Withdraw and bankrupt your team's culture.  It's up to you.

Have you ever been on a team of contributors?  Care to share a bit of the story below?  Those great stories energize people years later.  Just think back to the best teams you've ever been on and share a bit about the person or people who energized the culture the most.  Then, go and do likewise...